§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will elucidate further his statement—Official Report, 26th June, column 1020—that the United Kingdom produces overwhelmingly the cheapest coal in Europe; and if he will compare the production costs and export prices of United Kingdom and Polish coal.
§ Mr. Benn
The Commission's "Carnet de Prix" No. 23(1) of 14th June 1978 shows that for equivalent grades of coal, National Coal Board pithead prices are consistently lower than those of other Community producers, and the difference between the lowest NCB price and the highest Community price for the same grade of coal can be as much as $45 per tonne. In addition, it must be borne in mind that Government aid per tonne of coal production is much lower in the United Kingdom than in the other member States. Poland does not disclose the production costs of its coal. Export prices are low, with steam coal offered for delivery to Community countries at below the NCB cost of production, but these prices do not necessarily reflect Poland's own production costs.